My son and I were in a Video Store renting a DVD for the evening. We went up to stand in line and found ourselves standing behind an artistic looking man with a stack of DVD’s. The clerk politely told him his purchases would be $21.00. The price of a DVD rental at Hastings was $3.99 and the customer had five DVD’s.
When he was told what he owed for the rentals he went on to tell the cashier that he has never paid that much for video rentals here before. She explained that was the price of the rental. He told her that if he was a white man he wouldn’t be treated this way. She looked at him strangely and asked, “what does race have to do with it?” He said he has spent over $1500.00 in this store in the past month and he shouldn’t have to pay such an outrageous price for a rental. He said he wanted to talk to the manager and he would get his attorney involved in this.
Meanwhile my son and I stood there trying not to let our mouths drop open in complete shock at this mans behavior as he continued to attack the cashier by asking her if she knew how to add and if she was still in highschool etc… I nearly opened my mouth and got involved only I listened to the still small voice within which told me to just hold the space for this woman and allow her the opportunity to deal with this herself.
A rather young manager appeared on the scene and asked what the problem was. He once again explained that he didn’t want to pay $21.00 for these rentals. The manager was very matter of fact as she said. “If you don’t want to pay for the rentals sir, you can’t rent them,” end of story!
The customer said he wanted to talk to the owner and the manager explained he wasn’t there right now. He then demanded to get his phone number. They presented him with the manager’s card and the original cashier, now in tears asked him if he was going to pay for the rentals or not.
The man finally said he would pay for two of them, which he did, and he took his DVD’s and left the store. I reached over and touched the woman on the shoulder and asked her if she was O.K. I explained that nobody should have to deal with that kind of abuse and that she didn’t deserve it. She excused herself and went to the restroom for a good cry while another young gentleman took her place.
My son and I had a good conversation once we got to the car and headed for home. I explained to him that this man’s behavior was obviously not rational and he was not living in the same reality that we were. I told my son that you can’t argue with someone who isn’t living in the same reality but you also don’t need to tolerate their abuse. I asked him what he would do if he was the Cashier.
My son, who was sixteen at the time, said he would tell the guy “Dude, I’m just a sophomore, what do you want?” He then said he would probably ask the guy to answer a simple multiplication question like what is 4 x 5 and see if he could produce an answer. My son told me he probably wouldn’t like to appear stupid, and asking him a question like that would put him on the spot.
It is interesting how we can look at a situation like we witnessed and ask ourselves what we would have done in such a situation. There was a part of me that felt like a coward for not stepping in and defending this poor young girl, yet another part of me knew that holding the space for her to learn her own coping with assholes skills was the right thing to do.
My then husband, who was waiting in the car said that if it had been a man behind the counter he wouldn’t have pulled that, but he was into the power trip of intimidating women. He reduced this young cashier to tears and sent her away to pull herself together. I’m sure she may have had some of the same thoughts I did, such as “is this man carrying a gun and is he going to pull it out any minute if he doesn’t get his way?”
When we are dealing with irrational people we can never know what they are capable of. And…this is what we get when we are dealing with narcissistic people. They are not rational, not living in the same reality and at certain moments, like the one I witnessed, we get to see them in action, displaying their true colors.
This man felt he was entitled to receive his rentals for less than the rental price. He used intimidation and bullying in attempt to get his way. He pulled the race card to display himself as a victim. He used threats to speak to the manager, the owner, and his attorney threat to try and get what he wanted. He used the “I am a special customer, I’ve spent over $1500.00 in this store in the past month” card in attempt to influence the cashier to give him a deal. What it boiled down to was this was all about him and his entitlement to be treated differently than other customers.
In the end, of course, he didn’t get what he wanted and he will be treated very differently in the future as I overheard one of the managers saying they were going to ban his account as he pulls that same stunt every time he comes in.
I thought about the sign I often read in public establishments: “We reserve the right to refuse service!” This is a case where refusing service is definitely warranted.
We may want to put that very sign up in our own homes. We reserve the right to refuse service! If you come into my home, or my personal space and you are not respectful, kind and coming from love, then you can turn it around and head back out. If your reality is distorted, confused, twisted and otherwise incomprehensible, than take your reality elsewhere. Abuse will not be tolerated regardless of your personal circumstances.
While were making signs we could also put a “No Narcissist’s Trespassing” sign up. “Any signs of narcissism, overt or covert will be grounds for dismissal.”
There are times we find ourselves in situations where abuse cannot be avoided such as the circumstances of this young cashier at Hastings. This is where we have to get crystal clear and rock solid in our boundaries. “Don’t argue with someone who is out of touch with reality. Tell that person the rules! Either he plays or he doesn’t. If he wants to take it to a higher authority, so be it, here’s the info, have a nice day!
I suppose this applies to any situation at work or at home. Abuse should not be tolerated! Period!
Perhaps if I was the one behind the counter, Hastings would have fired me for treating this valued customer like a dog that just pee’d on my carpet, but it would have been worth it, for me. If you come in barking up the wrong tree you will have to be treated accordingly.
What would you do?